gracht by night
Out there… The BIG idea!

Do you know you can survive going self-employed?
Short answer: You don’t know.
But here’s the thing: you can find out. BUT you need to really have your eyes wide open and understand what you are getting into.
Also, if you have the luxury of being able to test an idea while still holding down a job, do it. It takes the pressure off. It means you have no vested interest in the outcome of your research and that you can be totally honest and rigorous in your enquiries.

The 7-Point Checklist:
1) Your Idea
Everyone always thinks their idea is perfect and wonderful. Be sensible and do some research and find out if it will actually work out there in the real world. Because that’s where you’ll be doing business: in the real world. There’s a good chance you’re right and it’s a great idea. But there’s nothing like certainty for a real confidence boost. Do your research.

2) Your market
It’s amazing how often small businesses fail because they are aiming at the wrong people. It’s not that they don’t have a market, they are just aiming their message at the wrong one. All too many start-ups think their market is 25 – 35 cool singletons. Often your target market is 65 and retired. Find it out and find out where to find them and how to reach them.

3) Your competition
No matter how unique you think your idea is, there is a good chance someone else is doing something similar. Check them out. What are they good at? What are their weaknesses? What part of the market are they not reaching? There is nothing wrong with adjusting your plans a bit to aim for a less occupied niche.

4) Your skills set

Mozart Genius
Keep calm and keep to the plan!

Look at what you want to do and think carefully about what is required to actually make it happen. Be honest now, can you really read contracts? Can you actually do accounts, marketing, design ad sales? Depending on your business you’re going to need many, if not all of these skills. Figure out what you can actually do and what you cannot. Then look for people with those skills to help you get going.

5) Your plan of action
Do you have one? Or are you expecting to turn up and things will just happen? It’s all very well to have researched your idea, your competition and your market, but you’ve still got to DO something. No small business became successful by accident. It requires thought out, targeted action. So get out there and DO things… even for free at first if you really have to.

6) Your resources
Please tell me you have some. You know: cash, tools, equipment, ideas, plans…. Make sure you know what you already have in the bag and what you still need to get. Make plans for how you’re going to get what you still need. Take a long hard look at what you have got… there is nothing worse than discovering you are under-resourced once you start working… everything always takes longer and is more expensive that way round.

7) Your back up
Fail to plan and plan to fail the old saying goes. So have a plan B so that you don’t fail. Bring your A game at all times, but if that doesn’t work, make sure you have contingency plans, other ways of doing things, a fresh set of ideas. No-one wants to have to give up and admit defeat… especially not if you only really gave it one good go. Before you even start, figure out how else you can tackle the project/client/task. Then keep applying plan B though Z until you get there. Unless pf course Plan A works then, well hey, you’ve got Plan B for next time.

One last thought? Spend some real time considering the change to self-employment. Not because you shouldn’t do it, but because it’s worth doing well.